PEQUANNOCK — A man was rescued from a trench Monday morning after being trapped up to his waist in debris.

The 61-year-old man was working in a trench behind the Knights of Columbus when the retaining wall fell in, according to Paterson Public Safety Director Jerry Speziale, whose department is part of the Metro Urban Search and Rescue Team. Paterson's team specializes in rescue from confined spaces, Speziale told New Jersey 101.5.

Speziale said the team put panels around the trapped man and vacuumed out the stone and brick debris around him in order to extract him. He was freed and flown via medical helicopter to the trauma center at St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in Paterson.

Speziale said the situation was more dangerous than it sounded.

"People may think 'waist deep,' but but when you have no circulation and debris against your body, your heart is trying to pump your blood, and you're getting no circulation from the waist down. So you have all that circulation cut off, your heart is working overtime and it's a very dangerous situation," Speziale said.

Pequannock police spokesman Capt. Dan Comune said the man was alert and in "good spirits" throughout the operation which took about 3 hours to complete.

No work was going on at the Knights of Columbus hall, Speziale said.

Pequannock police and the Morris County OEM said they would have additional information later on Monday afternoon.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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